Thursday, 9 March 2017


I've had a box of GW's Plaguebearer demons for a while - I nabbed it when a FLGS was selling off all its GW stock (should have grabbed the Demon Prince too, dammit!) at a pittance. I've sat on them since, not really knowing what to do with them.

I still don't really know what to do with them, but the other weekend I just wanted to do some modelling and painting, and didn't have the inspiration to do anything more unique. Instead, I carved off the horns and filled in some of the more ridiculous bodies (one with a Nurgling cavorting in the stomach cavity and one with a gaping maw in the belly), and set to painting.

Were it not for the horns, the cyclopean eyes, and the random mutations, these might be the best zombie models around.
One 'gut-mouth' survived; the other became a vague mass of innards. Thank-you, Polystyrene Cement.

These were my first attempts using a brown basecoat. It felt a little odd as I'm so used to black, but I think I may switch over to it for future models. Paintjobs were simple - zombie-green flesh, purple wash on the swollen limbs, open wounds and exposed organs in dark red, large pustules picked out in dark yellow, smaller pimples in white (I had my doubts but it does make them really pop... no pun intended), and a few spots picked out in a bubblegum pink for contrast (again, had my doubts about that, but it worked well). Finish off with my usual brown wash all over. Basecoat to basing in about 5 hours.

Got to say, I never really liked the Plaguebearer models - the rictus grins, mono-horns, and capering Nurglings always seemed a bit silly. Having actually had them in-hand, I'm something of a convert. The 'silliness' is far less than I originally thought and, with the removal of the horns, I like the sinister profile they have. The filthy, plague-ridden hordes of Nurgle seem a good fit for my wash-heavy style of painting too. Might have to try some more. Blightkings, you say...?

The horde. I'm kinda tempted to throw in some Mantic zombies to make these guys really look like the bruisers they are.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (and the Sewer Watch)

Hot (for me, anyway) on the heels of the Breacher for my little Fantasy gang come two more generic guardsmen named (natch) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. I've also started to string together a little fluff for my own entertainment, so while they're not dead (yet), they're the next best thing...

Rosencrantz & Guildenstern

These two started out as basic troopers, simply intended to make up the numbers. As I got increasingly kitbash happy, though, they took on a bit more personality.

Rosencrantz looked a little sparse, so I chucked on a GW Empire gorget and a small Bretonnian shield to tie him more to the Breacher - I see him as the guy that's second through the door, attacking over the Breacher's back with his spear. Arms are a Frostgrave Soldier's, simply drilled out for a wire spear.

Guildenstern, meanwhile, was destined to become the pack mule of the gang, receiving various bits and bobs, including a Frostgrave Soldier rucksack (again, as with the infantryman/cleric, used as a knapsack off the belt), a Perry axe and buckler, and the vitally useful rope (again, Frostgrave).

The bodies and heads of both are Fireforge infantry of some description.

Overall, pretty chuffed with them. Simple models, but fun.

I'm now up to five for my little gang - this tends to represent the tipping point for my interest unless I'm working towards a specific project. Normally, I'll wander off onto some other random little faction. However, in the case of these guys, I'm really enjoying just cobbling together some kits every now and again, so I think I'll keep at it. Like I say, specific projects help, so I've got my fluff on...

The Sewer Watch

Felstad Sewer Watch, 3rd Patrol (Tanners' Quarter)
Everyone knows that Felstad (1) is built on a maze of sewers, tunnels, and (it's rumoured) the ruins of older civilizations. Everyone knows that these passages house smugglers, beggars, and thieves. Everyone knows that the penalties for venturing below the city are harsh. Very few, however, know what's really down there...

Sinister cults, crazed mages, roving undead, and monstrous oozes rub shoulders with thieves and assassins throughout the sewer levels. The tunnels beneath them are home to savage humanoids and half-blind monsters while, deeper still, even more bizarre and terrifying creatures may be found.

The job of handling all this falls to the men and women of the Sewer Watch. Made up of convicts, disgraced soldiers, bastard sons of petty nobles, and individuals the Council simply wants to disappear, the Watch maintains the security of the city from threats from below ground, just as the Army and Navy guard against external threats, and the Council's mages prevent invasion from other planes of existence. Unlike the Army, Navy, and the mages, the Sewer Watch's resources consist of a spear (2) and helm per man, whatever the Office of Public Works can spare, and whatever the Watch can scrounge and extort from their 'beat' (3).

Were it not for the stench, the enchantment placed upon them that ensures their silence about their duties, and the fact that they're all ornery bastards (4), the Sewer Watch might be hailed as Felstad's greatest heroes.
(1) Not that one. 
(2) Despite the impracticality of using a spear in some of the tight tunnels and passageways beneath Felstad, they prove useful in the larger caverns and junctions and their length provides an advantage against many foes, not to mention the vast convenience of having a 10ft pole with which to test depth, surety of footing, check for traps...
(3) This is by far the greatest source of income for the Watch.
(4) If they're not a miserable, resentful, spiteful bastard before they get chucked into the Watch, it doesn't take long for them to become one...

Tuesday, 24 January 2017


I'm still on a bit of a roll with painting, which is nice, as I'm clearing my desk of models faster than I can kitbash new ones!

This chap has been half-finished for some time now, but I didn't really have the motivation to go back and finish him off until recently.

He's a very simple kitbash - Bretonnian Man-at-Arms body, head, and shield (what would I do without that kit? Glad I stockpiled a few boxes before GW discontinued the line) with an Empire warhammer arm and a gorget. As with some of my recent conversions, the only real work was carving away the arm that was originally in place while leaving a flat surface for the new one to sit on, and ensuring that the hood lay plausibly on top of the new shoulder.

I saw this guy as the 'breacher', responsible for kicking in doors, so wanted to give him a bit of bulk. I used the fat Bretonnian body, but decided early on to paint it as a breastplate rather than a belly, and opted for a leaner face to emphasize 'size' rather than 'fat'. He also got placed him on a piece of slate for a bit of a height boost. This also tied him in nicely to my knight, around whom a small gang is slowly forming. This also inspired the painting, using the same mix of blues, greys and browns that I liked for the previous figures in this group (the knight and the infantryman/cleric).

Now I've got a few characters for this little gang, they're starting to take on some personality, and I have a few more models destined to join them (hopefully) before long.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Oh Captain, My Captain 2.0

I've loved the Frostgrave Wraith Knights since I saw Dmitry's initial roughs for the artwork, but I never got around to painting them up.

Rummaging in my Drawers of Mystery (a couple of old file drawers I keep on the windowsill behind me at Osprey Towers) the other day, I found a sculpt of the one drawing his sword, and immediately knew what I wanted to do with it (which makes a nice change).

Step 1: clip off the helmeted head.
Step 2: carve out a hollow to accommodate a new head.
Step 3: glue on one of the Frostgrave Barbarian heads.

For once, everything went as planned.

Off came the head, the hollow was carved, and the new head fit perfectly at the first time of asking. At this point, I panicked and left the miniature alone for a few days lest I glue it to my face or something.

When I did get back to it, I went for a simple paintjob, roughly keeping the Lord of the Rings Rohirrim in mind, though I did go back and repaint the scale mail as metal rather than leather as I initially started out.

All told, this might be my favourite figure in a long time. He really looks like a grizzled veteran, and I'm looking forward to adding him to a warband as a Captain.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017


Got back into painting after a bit of a lull, and started polishing off some half-finished pieces, including this chap:
Executioner, torturer, and generally unpleasant chap.

There's something eerily iconic about executioners, and this guy was mostly inspired by the hangman from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves - classic hood, studded leather, evil leer.

Inevitably, that meant a dip into my box of Bretonnian Men-at-Arms. While I did consider going full studded leather, as offered by one of those Bretonnian bodies, it seemed a little much, so I erred towards something a little less ostentatious. The hardest job was carving out the existing arms so that there was a flat surface onto which I could attach Frostgrave Barbarian arms while still leaving the studded leather collar sitting plausibly on the new shoulders. The rest was a doddle - Frostgrave Cultist head with minimal work to get it to sit flush and for the cowl to blend into the collar. Stuff on the back of the belt is my usual mish-mash of junk, including a skull (Frostgrave Gnolls, I think) as a souvenir of his work, a bottle (Cultists again) and a crossbow quarrel quiver (Perry Miniatures, I think), because it works perfectly as a generic belt pouch on slightly larger figures.

Despite using a GW body as a base, he's surprisingly squat, with the powerful arms and slightly too-small head giving him a really thuggish look that I'd love to claim was intentional!

A minor mishap with an over-heavy satin varnish means it's just a little too shiny (a matt layer took the edge off). After the disaster with the Greyjoys, I've moved from GW's evil Purity Seal to brush-on stuff, which is a) much cheaper, and b) gives me more control... or will once I get used to using it.

Monday, 16 January 2017


We (Frostgrave author Joseph McCullough and myself) were up in Nottingham recently, and decided to call in at Warhammer World and take a look around the exhibition hall/museum. When in Rome, and all that. This was actually our second visit in the last couple of months, but we were on a schedule for the first, and only managed to make it to the store (conveniently enough to pick up some Genestealer Cultists for me and some Lord of the Rings models for Joe) before having to head off.

This time, we did it right, and made sure we had time to see everything before rolling out. First off, a tour of the Warhammer World exhibition is well worth the price of admission (£7.50, as it happens). I'd been a few years back (well, perhaps more than a few...), courtesy of a friend then working there, but the scale of the current gallery of models and dioramas past, present and future is a far cry from what I remember.

The 'tour' takes you through several rooms, starting with the 'nostalgia hall', showing off classic models from the early days of Citadel/GW. I seem to recall this being more extensive; as it is, it's a little brief for my liking - I would have loved to see more of the old toys. Still, it did include these two beauties, which are just as good as I remember:

Warhammer Quest. A lovely, characterful diorama, with some great touches, such as the Wizard's hat getting transfixed by an arrow and a Trollslayer about to fall through a trapdoor.
Lustria. A simple scene, lacking the complexity of some, but telling a superb story of a rescue mission and an interrupted sacrifice. I can't remember if this accompanied a specific release or not, but it's stuck with me!

From Nostalgia, the exhibition leads into Warhammer/Age of Sigmar, showing off Studio paint-jobs for what I believe is every model in the current range. Impressive, to be sure, but it was still the dioramas that caught the eye. The standouts for me were these three:

The first of two paired dioramas for Age of Sigmar, this one shows Wood Elves (or whatever they're called these days) sweeping from the forest to overrun an Orc warband.
The second of the paired dioramas, showing the devastation wrought by a victorious orc horde. Both are simple scenes, but do a great job of conveying their source material. I actually started to appreciate the Age of Sigmar 'realm' set-up with this visual depiction.
From the relatively subtle, the dioramas swing upwards to the colossal, such as this Nurgle army marching out from their fortress.

There were some that just didn't photograph well, unfortunately, such as a 360-degree Skaven vs Dwarves scene with the combat taking place through a honeycomb of caves and tunnels.

Feeling philosophical, I did comment that the dioramas seem to be a perfect metaphor for the evolution of the GW Hobby - from small and quirky to big, brash and just plain more. The huge dioramas include lots of lovely little touches, but you do have to hunt for them a bit, or just stumble onto them by looking at it just right...

From the Warhammer hall, it's through into the Imperium of Man, a hall given over to Space Marines, Imperial Guard and all those chaps. Perhaps I'm just not a fan of the Marines as much as I used to be, but this hall I went round pretty quickly. The highlight was the awe-inspiring Pilgrym terrain and gangs by such folk as Jeff Vader and the Iron Sleet guys. Having worked with Johan (Jeff Vader) on a couple of projects for Osprey, this was one of the main reasons for my visit, and I'm pleased to say that it's even better in real life than it looks in the photos I've seen online and in White Dwarf (and that's saying something!).

After the Imperium comes the 'Enemies of Mankind' hall, given over to everything that isn't a Marine or a Guardsman. I absolutely believe the anecdotes about GW selling one Marine for every other model if the balance shown in the exhibition is anything to go by!

A classic Crimson Fists vs. Orks scene? Yes, please.

The conclusion of the tour is really phenomenal. A colossal scene that fills a stairwell, with Khornate forces assaulting a Marine-held fortification. You enter it at the top, looking down from spires and towers on a battlescene that comes into focus as you circle down around it. It's a mammoth work, and needs to be seen to be believed.

Then, in the grand tradition of all good tours, it's out via the gift shop!

All told, I really enjoyed the trip, and with dozens of games tables and Bugman's Bar on the premises as well, it kinda made me wish I had a Warhammer army to play with. Then again, having seen the new Age of Sigmar Orcs up close, I am tempted...

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Viva Tezcatlipoca! Viva Mexico!

After the fiasco with my lovingly done Greyjoys the other week, I was a little down on wargaming, and decided that what I needed was something that would perk me up and remind me how enjoyable painting is!

So, I rummaged through the file boxes into which I had placed all my models following our office move, and dug out the largest army I have ever completed - my VSF Mexicans.

I painted these guys about 5 years ago, for the simple reason that I like Mexican history, love the Wargames Foundry 'South of the Border' range, and I wanted to. They've never taken the field, though the release of The Men Who Would Be Kings may well change that (though Dragon Rampant would probably be more sensible).

Two units of Infantry.

One unit of Peons.
One unit of elite San Patricios. These guys are also Foundry figures, but from the later Mexican Adventure range, so they're a good bit bigger than the Mexican troops. Clearly strapping sons of Erin, one and all.
One unit of Apache scouts.
One unit of Cavalry. Perry Miniatures (ACW plastics), put to good use!
One Cannon. Both crewmen are converted from Foundry Peons - one is clutching a telescope, while the other has a sponge/rammer made from brass rod and green stuff.
One Siege Mortar. Completely unnecessary for a field force, but I really wanted the model! The shells are ball bearings that fit the gun barrel perfectly. One of the crew is converted with another sponge/rammer, and is displaying far more arm strength than common sense!
One Command Squad. Colonel, standards, and musicians. The standard bearer with the Tezcatlipoca banner (which I really wish I'd taken a better picture of) and the drummer (I think) are Crusader ACW miniatures.

At this point, history takes a decided back seat, and the weirdness creeps in. Rather than go full-on steampunk for my army, with mechs and walkers and whatnot, I decided to skew towards Deadlands and throw Aztec/Mayan mythology into the mix, with a blatant disregard for cultural distinctions and consistency. If it was cool, it was in.

One unit of Spawn of Cipactli. Sounds very Cthulhu-esque, and not unreasonably so. Cipactli could well be Cthulhu by any other name. No idea where I got these little critters from!
Two Balam. Jaguar demons. I think these are D&D prepaints.
One Son of Cabrakan. Because every weird army needs a 'big guy'. This one (clearly) descended from the Mayan god Cabrakan. Another D&D prepaint.
One Coatl. Because you can't have an Aztec-themed army without one! Yet another D&D prepaint. I was worried that the red and blue feathers (done to tie it more to the colour scheme of the human troops) would end up looking daft, but I'm kind of fond of it.
The real commanders! A random collection of Aztec minis. The priest can be removed from the sacrifice vignette base to act as an independent character if desired.
The full army in all its glory.